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February 17,


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Currents--University of Rochester newspaper

Eastman announces major renovation

The Eastman School of Music has announced plans for a $4-$5 million renovation of the stage in Eastman Theatre. The goal is to enhance the visual and acoustical experience for performers and audience members, improve technical and mechanical functions, and preserve the historical integrity of the building's architecture.

"We are extremely excited to move forward with this first phase of our renovation plans for Eastman Theatre," says Eastman School Director and Dean James Undercofler. "Improving the stage is perhaps the most important aspect of our plan to make the theater an even better venue for concerts, opera, and other artistic performances in Rochester."

Details of the renovation include updating the stage by adding a new custom shell for improved flexibility and acoustics and installing a new sprung-wooden floor to accommodate dance as well as musical performances.

The project also involves plans to improve the orchestra pit by adding new mechanics and hydraulics, new rigging, and improved lighting.

Preliminary work--shell construction, certain aspects of the rigging--will begin this summer. However, this initial work can be done offsite and will be mostly "invisible" to concertgoers. The "visible" portion of the stage renovation is scheduled to occur during the summer of 2004, with the new stage to be completed and operational by September 30 of that year.

Since Eastman Theatre will not be usable during construction, this schedule allows the project to be completed when theater use is at its lowest and with minimal disruption to concert life and events.

Since the late 1990s, Undercofler and other School leaders have examined Eastman Theatre in light of the school's--and the community's--current and future needs and the costs associated with any proposed changes. The school made the decision to proceed with renovating in separate phases, recognizing current economic conditions and Eastman students' financial aid needs.

The cost of the stage renovation is being funded by individual and foundation donations as well as Eastman School funds that have been allocated specifically to the theater project.

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